Scaling Access to Healthy, Affordable Food in the North Country
Healthy Food, Healthy Lives
June 15, 2021
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Country’s food insecurity rate jumped from 11% to an estimated 15%.
Immediate relief was provided to the region’s residents and farmers through an NYSHealth grant to AdkAction, which launched a free emergency food packages program. Building on the success of that grant, AdkAction evolved its program into a sustainable food security model, Fair Food Pricing. Under this new subsidized program, qualified households receive a discount on farm food packages and residents can use SNAP dollars to purchase them. AdkAction has also expanded income eligibility to meet growing community need. Fair Food Pricing is distinct from other food incentive programs in that customers can also purchase locally produced whole food items, such as milk, eggs, and meat, as opposed to only fruits and vegetables. Customers can also shop online or in person, providing a mechanism for homebound residents and rural households to have food delivered to their homes. In 2021, NYSHealth awarded AdkAction a grant to scale this innovative model in the North Country.
Under this grant, AdkAction will scale Fair Food Pricing and widen its customer base, including making it available to higher-income families at market price and offering an option for sponsor households to enroll, which will support a sustainable financing model. It will also recruit new vendors from across the North Country to become suppliers and increase its capacity to serve more households. It will create a vendor agreement, training program, and vendor communications toolkit to promote the program, as well as work with its network to recruit and enroll qualified households. AdkAction will also provide technical assistance, including a how-to manual, to help other small vendors across the State apply to become online SNAP vendors and streamline the process. AdkAction will also work with consultants to test the feasibility of consolidating multiple nutrition incentive benefits into one unified card system, making it easier and more efficient for customers and vendors to have a streamlined purchasing experience, both online and in person. To move the approach beyond the North Country, AdkAction will develop a how-to guide on replicating Fair Food Pricing, including lessons learned and case studies of vendors and participants.